Drowning to Breathe (Bleeding Stars Book 2)
by A.L. Jackson
“Hot and heartbreaking, sweet and sexy…. You cannot…CANNOT miss this incredible conclusion!.” M. Leighton, NYT Bestselling Author
The danger in pretending is it becoming real…
Sebastian Stone, Sunder front man and guitarist with a rap sheet about ten miles long, escaped to Savannah, Georgia, to get away from the trouble he’d caused.
Not find more of it.
The moment he saw Shea Bentley, he saw beneath all her sweet and innocence to something that went deeper.
Their relationship was built on secrets; their love built on lies.
Sebastian never imagined how deep her secrets went.
When the past and present collide, Sebastian and Shea find themselves fighting for a future neither believed they deserved. Their passion is consuming and their need unending.
Now, holding the truth in his hands, Sebastian is faced with sacrificing everything he’s come to love to protect Shea and his family.
Two pasts intertwined.
Two lives bound.
Will their demons drown them or will Shea and Sebastian finally learn to breathe?
“Shea and Sebastian’s story is simply beautiful, and impossible not to love.” Mia Sheridan, NYT Bestselling Author
Drowning to Breathe is the stunning conclusion to Shea and Sebastian’s 2-part Duet! Their story began in A Stone in the Sea.
Excerpt #1 Drowning to Breathe
My brow pinched, because this fucking hurt. Hurt that Shea had been resisting confiding in me because of who I was. A fucking loose cannon. Someone prone to violence. And there it was, right beneath the surface, fire flaming and licking and begging for release.
My voice was tight. “Made you a promise I’d protect you, Shea. Live for you. And that’s exactly what I’m gonna do. You and Kallie? You’re my life. My everything. And I will do anything…give up anything…to make sure you two are together. I won’t let him win.”
She brushed the back of her hand over the wetness on her cheeks. “He will do anything to break us apart…to separate us. He knows we’re weaker alone. All his words about taking us down at the same time?”
Her head shook with bitterness and hate, something so foreign on my girl’s face, but I saw it there—the atrocities he’d committed—the things she still kept inside.
The scars she wore on her heart while I wore mine on my skin.
“It’s a tactic. A ploy. He thinks he can fill us with threats. Convince our subconscious into believing together we’re easy targets. But, no.” Her eyes drew together as she refuted the idea, as she spilled her own belief. “He’s a coward. A coward. Someone who allows others to carry out his crimes and then lords it over them as if he is the one exerting control.”
That brave chin quivered. “I gave him my submission for so long, and I refuse to ever be that girl again. I was her, Sebastian. I was weak.”
Strength filled the profession. “But I’m not weak anymore. And I’m even stronger with you by my side.”
“Promise me you won’t let him provoke you, Sebastian. He knows exactly how to ruin people. He finds their weaknesses. He knows Kallie is mine. And he knows the two of us are yours.”
I swallowed hard. “I promise, baby.”
Excerpt #2 Drowning to Breathe
My heart slammed around in my chest and my sight narrowed on one singular goal.
It felt like a lifetime to get to her house, and there was nothing stopping me now. Unlocking her front door, I charged up the stairs. I didn’t pause at her bedroom door. I threw it open. I needed to get to her.
With her back to me, Shea was curled around a pillow on the center of her bed. She startled with the sudden intrusion and jerked up to sitting. Caramel eyes blinked at me through the dim light, confusion and hurt and sorrow.
Motionless, I stood in the doorway as the silence hovered over all our uncertainties.
On all the questions.
But Shea was right.
None of that mattered.
And this was enough.
“Shea.” My voice broke on her name.
I took a step inside and latched the door shut behind me.
Shea’s chin quivered, and she lifted it because I knew this girl wanted to be brave. I knew she was playing through a million scenarios. Mentally going through all the ways I was going to let her go. How I was going to let her down. I knew the words she expected to spill from my mouth because for too long I’d been a coward and a fool, thinking sacrifice was the only way to make this right.
Because every time I turned around, I lost someone I loved.
Not this time.
I swallowed hard. “You want to know what I see when I look at you?”
When the intensity in my voice hit her, Shea choked out a tiny sob.
I took one step closer as I began to speak. “I see someone who’s so fucking sweet and kind that every time I look at her it just about knocks me from my feet, because I’ve had so much bad in my life I don’t know how to stand in her presence. I see someone who I know I don’t deserve, so every time I turn around, I’m runnin’ scared because I’m terrified of ruining everything she is.”
Slowly, I approached her, and she watched me in the shadows. Her hands trembled in her lap as I neared.
“I see someone who deserves the greatest kind of joy.”
Another step closer, and Shea crept toward the side of the bed. She drew a single leg up to her chest. Clinging to it as if it could protect her from any more pain. Everything she felt and wanted and feared was exposed in the expression on her face.
I stopped at the edge of the bed and dropped to my knees.
A small cry escaped her mouth.
Reaching out, I gripped her face in my hands, my fingers burrowing in soft, soft hair.
“I see someone, who even though there’s not a chance in this world I could ever be good enough to have her…good enough to hold her…that’s all I want to do. I see someone I want to protect and love and fight for.”
Tears streamed down her cheeks. She edged even closer and let her legs slip over the side.
I settled myself between her knees and met the storm in her eyes.
“I see beauty and light.”
Those eyes flashed, and emotion crushed my ribs. This girl had me twisted up in every way possible.
Shea gasped when I grabbed her by the waist and pulled her to me. I shifted so I sat on the floor with my back propped against the bed.
Shea was straddling my lap.
Warmth enveloped me. Her heart was pounding, all tucked up against me, right where she belonged.
Her skin felt so soft. Mine lit on fire.
She searched my face and I kept on.
“I see the most fucking gorgeous girl I’ve ever had the pleasure to lay my eyes on.” My voice dropped as I leaned up so I could brush my mouth across her ear. “The pleasure to touch.”
A shiver rolled through her, and I gathered one of her hands between us, threading our fingers. I studied them as I struggled to form the words.
I lifted my gaze and spoke with the most honesty I’d ever allowed myself.
“When I look at you, I see a future I never thought existed, Shea.”